Slovenia: Social partners propose solutions to youth unemployment

A project initiated by the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia focuses on the plight of young people in the labour market. A study, carried out as part of the project, has led to proposals for a range of measures to tackle Slovenia’s high youth unemployment including the revival of apprenticeships and employment counselling. The research shows that young people are having huge difficulties finding jobs: they wait longer for their first job than in the past, and are more likely to be unemployed long term.

About the study

The problems of high youth unemployment in Slovenia are the focus of a project initiated by the Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (ZSSS). A study was carried out between 2012 and 2013 within the framework of the Decent project for decent work (in Slovenian, 2.34 MB PDF).

ZSSS carried out an extensive comparative analysis of the Slovenian and Norwegian labour markets, focusing on young people aged 29 and under, and on active youth employment policies. It was conducted in partnership with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO Norway), and the aim was to formulate proposals for measures to reduce youth unemployment in Slovenia.

Findings

The comparative analysis of the Slovenian and Norwegian labour markets showed that a greater proportion of young employees in Slovenia received the minimum wage compared to Norway. However, the minimum wage in Slovenia is four times lower than the minimum wage in Norway.

The research also found the majority of young people (71.4%) between the ages of 15 and 24 in Slovenia were employed on a fixed-term contract.

Eurostat data analysed for the study also showed that the risk of being in poverty among those aged between 18 and 24 in Slovenia was 11.5% in 2012. This is lower than in northern European countries such as Finland (30.5%) and Norway (34.4%), and also lower than the overall average risk of poverty in Slovenia (13.5%). This may be partly explained by the fact that most of those in this age group are still living at home with their parents.

Researchers believe Slovenia also faces ‘brain drain’ problems. The number of young people between the ages of 20 and 29 who emigrated almost doubled between 2008 and 2012. Data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS) show that 692 people in this age group left Slovenia in 2008, compared with 1,231 in 2012.

Proposed measures

The research compared Slovenian and Norwegian active employment policies. It suggested there had been little attempt to tackle youth unemployment and its effects in Slovenia, and employment activation measures had generally not targeted this age group. On the basis of the study, ZSSS proposed a number of measures to improve the situation including:

  • a ‘job carousel’ to give young people access to work experience while working for a selection of different companies;
  • the extension of the action learning project for young people (PUM) to include all those up to the age of 30, and intensive short courses in various fields such as the green economy and cultural production;
  • a national scheme of paid internships with pay no lower than the poverty level for the EU as a whole, and at least 60% of average income or the minimum wage in Slovenia, with reimbursement of transport costs to and from work, meal allowances and payment for overtime work;
  • the establishment of a national system for the recognition of informal work experience and the integration of formal and informal education, including a taxonomy of professional skills and competences;
  • an ‘entrepreneurial certificate’, which involves education in four models on the basis that the participant acquires the necessary skills;
  • a scheme to introduce young people to work or training with a gradual transition into paid employment;
  • the establishment of a ‘career line’, a special web portal where young people can access information about the labour market and find employment counselling;
  • special brochures for young people on subsidised employment programmes or taking part in active employment measures, and the introduction of job clubs for young jobseekers;
  • an analysis of whether a dual education system should be (re)introduced, improving practical training at tertiary level and offering in-depth career counselling for young people in higher grades of basic and secondary education.

Norway’s active employment policy is designed to be highly interdisciplinary, characterised by close cooperation between employment services and schools. There is also active engagement with young people, monitoring their development and offering individual counselling. Slovenian measures are much more oriented towards subsidising the employment of young people.

Commentary

Both social partners, ZSSS and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (GZS), agree that one possible solution would be to reintroduce the apprenticeship system in Slovenia. They say this would more effectively match the skills of young labour market entrants to labour market needs. Apprenticeships help young people gain work experience, build a social network and identify potential employers.

There is a gap between the needs of employers and young people’s educational structure. The Slovenian labour market has too few workers with primary and vocational education, and has too many young people with higher levels of education.

Unions and employer organisations agree that involving the social partners in initiatives to tackle youth unemployment is vital.

In August 2013, ZSSS and the Association of Employers of Slovenia (ZDS) started to cooperate in the MOST project to promote intergenerational cooperation in the workplace. The project will also focus on new forms of employment for highly educated young people.

References

Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (2103), ‘Improving the situation of young people in Slovenia’, available at http://www.sindikat-zsss.si/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1093:izboljajmo-poloaj-mladih-v-sloveniji-zakljuki-projekta-decent-project-for-decent-work&catid=2:aktualno&Itemid=65

Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia (2013), ‘Decent Project for Decent Work’, (in Slovenian, 2.43 MB PDF), available at http://www.sindikat-zsss.si/attachments/article/1076/ProblemskaAnalizaPolozajaMladih_DecentProjectForDecentWork_SindikatMladiPlus.pdf

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (2013), ‘Measures for improving youth employment’, available at http://www.gzs.si/slo/skupne_naloge/stalisca_in_komentarji/61983

Association of Employers of Slovenia (2014), ‘MOST: The social partners and cooperation between generations in the workplace’, available at http://www.zds.si/si/projekti/most/

Association of Employers of Slovenia (2014), ‘Girls’ day’, available at http://www.zds.si/en/projects/girls-day/default.html

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